As the second half of the baseball season commences, sportsbooks are thrilled the New York Yankees are in first place, because no team draws more actions for MLB picks than the Pinstripes.
Little known fact, approximately 30 percent of all content read at MLB.com is Yankees related thus one could ascertain there is a similar relationship to the betting odds.
However, I very much doubt the numbers are that high because a close inspection of New York does not lead a baseball handicapper to suspect highly inflated numbers. Here is a look at all the teams in the AL East and what if any will close the gap.
New York Yankees (48-40, +0.5 units)
The Yankees closed the first half 7-3 to open up a four-game lead in the loss column (that is all that matters, because you have to presume all teams will play 162 games). Manager Joe Girardi has a veteran team that is built to win now and they are second on the American League in runs scored 4.65 per game and have any number of players who have come through with big hits. The Yanks have also protected the home field well with a 25-16 record and been strong as favorites at 34-22. New York opens the second half with winnable Seattle series at home and a fairly important series with Baltimore. This is followed with 10-game trip at Minnesota, Texas and at the White Sox which they should return home no worse than .500. A lot of reasons to like the Yankees for MLB picks to start at least 9-7.
Tampa Bay (46-45, -0.2)
After a disastrous 2-13 stretch, the Rays at least finished above .500 at the break by sweeping Houston. Tampa Bay has tried to continue to play the "Rays Way", however, they lack the necessary offense to do so at 3.65 runs per game averaged, despite very good pitching which has surrendered only 3.75 RPG. Chances are slim the Rays will add a bat and will need more production from whom they have. No bullpen was happier to see the break than Tampa Bay's, who has toiled the most innings and went from 4th to 12th in ERA in just about a month. Tampa Bay begins the second half at Toronto and Philadelphia and is back home to face comparable teams in the Orioles and Tigers before visiting both Sox squads. The Rays resemble a .500 team unless the bullpen works less and the batting order starting averaging over 4 RPG.
Baltimore (44-44 -2.2)
After a stellar June surge, the Orioles fell back with a 3-10 pre-All Star break finish to sit at .500. Baltimore's pitching has been good enough for them to be sixth in the AL in ERA, but there has unquestionably been a problem, particularly on the road. The O's are sixth in the majors in scoring at home at 4.8 RPG, but they fall faster than an anvil pushed off a 10-story building away from home at 3.9 RPG, leading to 15-25 road mark. Though not imperative, the Birds second half begins in MoTown, New York and Tampa Bay, which could make or break them based on past results this season. Overall, the Orioles offense has to do better in OPB, with too many strikeouts (3rd in AL) and too few walks (13th). Baltimore only moves up with more balanced offense.
Toronto (45-46, -5.1)
The Blue Jays offense has been prolific at 5.3 RPG and if they are to become a factor in the AL East they need to deal for a starting pitcher and a reliable setup man for the seventh or eighth inning. Nonetheless, the pitching does not deserve all the blame as the Toronto lumber company is feast or famine against the MLB odds. On 37 occasions or 40.6 percent of the time, the Blue Jays have scored three or fewer runs, hardly a mark of a consistently great offense. They have been bailed out by tallying nine or more runs 17 times this season. Toronto has an opportunity to play themselves back into the race in first four series versus, Tampa Bay, At Oakland, Seattle and Philadelphia. Let's see what kind of mental toughness they have.
Boston (42-47, -11.6)
Places like Heritagesports.eu have gotten contributions from Red Sox bettors all season. Boston's lack of overall pitching is their largest drawback along with a dysfunctional roster which has holes is all facets. Being seven games back is hardly insurmountable, yet what makes this extremely difficult for them is already having a putrid 17-27 record in division play. The way the schedule plays out, we will know by August 10th if the Red Sox were just overrated and if the front office blundered badly (as if we don't already know) by taking pitching for granted in the off-season.